Exploring Rocks

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SWBAT ask and answer questions to understand key details about rocks using informational and literary text.

Big Idea

Rocks come in different sizes and shapes.


7 minutes

Context and Overview

The topic for this week is Earth Sciences. Second graders in my district are expected to know about the different types of rocks and their properties. I feel the informational text standards of the Common Core fit in perfectly to help us study this topic through different texts. Students are expected to ask and answer questions that demonstrate their understanding of key details in texts, and students are expected to read and comprehend informational texts of appropriate complexity.

Today, to move towards those standards and expose my students to rich science content, they are going to be able to investigate the question: What are rocks? They will be investigating different sources to gather information on rocks: students will be watching a video on rocks and taking notes; they will be exploring rocks as they practice their academic language and they will be listening to a read aloud so that they can go home and find a rock of their own. I will also give them time to write and reflect on what they learn about rocks.

On the Rug:

To start the lesson, I will brainstorm with students what scientists do with students. Here is our list: What do Scientists Do? In making this list, I am drawing their attention to the actions of scientists. In addition to exploring rocks through texts and other media, I want to make my students aware that they will be involved in the scientific process just like real scientists. And this scientific process involves their five senses.

Brainstorming About Rocks

5 minutes

I will have students pair share what they know about rocks: WhatAreRocks? Then, I will take volunteers and record their answers in a circle map. This map will be displayed on our concept question board as example of our knowledge and how our knowledge grows. In this manner, my students get another opportunity to practice academic language.

Questions About Rocks

10 minutes

Now, I will gather questions about rocks from the students and record them on a chart paper: LookAtOurQuestions. I will write the question: What are rocks on the top of the chart so that the question is not duplicated. After the students have given me about 10, I will stop and guide them in the  evaluation of the questions. I will ask them, are their any question that have repeated themselves? This is asking them to reread. Then, if there are, I will ask them, how we can combine the sentences? Then, I will have the students choose 2 sentences to write in their journal. Here are some images that show my class choosing:

Later on, the students will be choosing a question to investigate further.

I want to make my students are aware of the type of questions they are asking. I want them to practice listening and to make sure they are not being lazy in their thinking and repeating what others have already stated. In brainstorming questions, it is about quality not quantity.

Exploration of Rocks

10 minutes

Scientists are very much active in their role of observer and explorer. Therefore, I am engaging my students in hands-on exploration of rocks. And since my students have sat on the carpet for awhile, I want to make sure to get them moving. I will give my students egg cartons filled with filled with different types of rocks as they go back to their seats.

This will be a time for my students to practice their speaking skills as they observe and make comments about what they are observing: MuchtoTalkAbout. My students need much practice with oral conversations in which they are practicing academic language: ExploringTheRocksLisenting&Speaking.

As they explore (OoohLookWhatIFound) I walk around and listen in to their conversations. It is a good way to informally monitor who is speaking in complete sentences. I was pleased to see how engaged my students were during this part of the lesson: InterestIsHigh.

Video: Rocks

20 minutes

Scientists do many things, including doing research and documenting what they research. Today, my class of scientists will get a chance to gather information on our topic using different sources, including a video on rocks.

The video I am using is titled Earth Science for Children: All About Rocks & Minerals. I borrowed it from the library, so I cannot reproduce it here unfortunately. However, I did find another video (below) that seems pretty interchangeable with the one I used. This one also gives students information about rocks. This particular video is part of the Schlessinger Media collection and more information can be obtained at www.libraryvideo.com. There are different videos available on youtube that can be used instead. Again, I feel this one can be a good substitute.

When we watch the video I will pause to give them time to write down notes. That is why, although the video is only a few minutes long, this process takes us 20 minutes. I will remind them that they can use drawings and words/phrases for their note-taking. I will remind them that to be successful with this task, they need to be good listeners.

In addition to teaching these note taking strategies, I have also developed a template for them to take notes (All About Rocks). Here are some samples of my students' notes so you can see what they produced:

At the end of the video, I will give my students time to write their key words. Not only does this help solidify their understanding of what they just learned about, but it also gives me a quick way to asses how well students are honing in on the important facts.

Read Aloud: Everybody Needs A Rock

15 minutes

As mentioned in the previous section, I want my students to learn about rocks from different sources, just like real scientists and researchers. So that is why I will be reading the book, Everybody Needs A Rock, by Byrd Baylor as a read aloud. Another reason for reading it is I want them them choose a rock of their own for homework. I will make sure to give them safe guidelines about looking for one outside. Maybe this will inspire some of them to start a rock collection. It will be interesting to see what type of rock they bring tomorrow and to learn how many of them already have a rock collection. 

Independent Writing

12 minutes

Now, I will ask the students to take the time and write what they have found out about rocks given all that they saw and experienced today. I am curious to see what they have learned. Here are some samples of what they wrote:

Whole Group Sharing

7 minutes

I will gather the students once again and a couple of them will have the opportunity to share with the whole group. Here are some examples of students sharing:

As students share, they receive feedback. The feedback comes in this form:

  • Two stars: Two students share what they specifically like about what the speaker shares.
  • A wish: Another student shares what they wish the speaker improve in their writing.